The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has acquired British toy maker Hamleys for nearly 68 million pounds in an all-cash deal. Hamleys, a 259-year-old toy maker, has been struggling to generate profits in recent times. It reported a profit after tax of 2.4 million pounds in 2018 after suffering a loss of 11.2 million pounds in 2017.
It is currently owned by Chinese fashion conglomerate C Banner International, which had acquired it for 100 million pounds in 2015. “Reliance Brands, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, and C Banner International Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed company, signed an agreement for Reliance Brands to acquire 100% shares of Hamleys Global Holdings, the owner of Hamleys brand, from C Banner International,” the company said.
Hamleys started with a single-store shop, Noah’s Ark, in 1760. It now has 167 stores across 18 countries. Besides the UK, it has stores in China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa and West Asia. Reliance Retail, Ambani’s flagship retailer, already has a pan-India franchise agreement with Hamleys to merchandise its famous toys. This acquisition will catapult Reliance Brands to be a dominant player in the global toy retail industry, the company said in a statement. In India, Reliance had the franchise agreement for Hamleys and currently operates 88 stores across 29 cities.
Ambai is currently engaged in fierce competition with Amazon and Walmart in an ongoing race to dominate India's retail market. The purchase Hamleys will help bolster that fight.